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Expensive boat stolen

The Panhandle is known for its boating, with vessels registered around the nation calling its waters home. One local couple no longer join in after their boat was taken right from its dock. Channel Three's Rob Brown talked to them earlier today.

Rob Brown "It was early Friday morning when a thirty-six foot Contender fishing boat was taken from the backyard of Joe and Linda Bell. At least two men were seen on video-tape coming around this security fence..."
 Rob Brown "..they walked down the dock, hit this breaker, which turned on power to the boat lift. They dropped the lift, took the boat, and left the lift running overnight. It caused the damage you see here."

Joe Bell "I had a thirty-six foot Contender boat on this lift, and when I woke up at six a.m., it was gone."

Joe Bell says despite precautions he took, the thieves worked quickly and efficiently.

Joe Bell "The batteries were disconnected, they had to connect the batteries. All this took about seventeen minutes according to our surveillance cameras."

The thieves were caught on camera, but it was too dark to help with identification. The boat, called "Bite Me," had just been upgraded with roughly thirty thousand dollars in electronics. Bell says other boat owners should safeguard their vessels.

Joe Bell "In the future, what I'd recommend is putting a lock on the box, the control box there. And I'd also recommend a tracking GPS on the boat. And also I'd recommend securing the list a little bit better, maybe the wheels, the pulleys and stuff so it'd be very hard for people to get."

Bell says he's worried this type of activity is increasing.

Joe Bell "I think it's happening more than we realize, because about every six months I catch wind of it."

Bell says he's not optimistic about a recovery.

Joe Bell "I honestly don't think I'll get it back."

Rob Brown "The theft is under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to call the Shalimar Police Department. In Okaloosa County, Rob Brown, Channel Three News."